Tired of Hiding and Lying by Omission, Ellen Page Comes Out To Make a Difference

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Photo: Human Rights Campaign

I can’t wait for a time when this kind of story is no longer considered news. When we don’t have to report on announcements of a person’s sexuality. Unfortunately we’re still a way off from that kind of ideal world and with every person in the public eye that has the courage to come out we move closer to acceptance, to “help[ing] others have an easier and more hopeful time” and to making this ideal a reality.

The latest star to come out as a gay woman is Juno’s Ellen Page.

The 26-year-old Canadian star appeared at the Human Rights Campaign’s THRIVE conference in Las Vegas on Friday night where she delivered a deeply personal and moving speech to the gathered audience largely made up of youth-serving professionals.

Time to THRIVE was the inaugural national conference run by Human Rights Campaign in conjunction with the National Education Association and the American Counseling Association, promoting safety, inclusion and well-being for LGBTQ youth…everywhere!

Though not listed as an official speaker or being in attendance at the conference, Page nervously took to the stage and proceeded to proudly and defiantly stated that why she was there, why she was coming out now and that LGBTI youth are not alone (see end of article for the complete text of her remarks).

Her courage to come out has been praised by LGBTI advocates across the world with celebrities, NGO’s and the general public taking to social media to congratulate the X-Men star and offer their support.

The Human Rights Campaign released a statement not long after her speech saying, “Page’s indomitable spirit sets a powerful example for LGBT and allied youth around the world. Coming out — whether it is as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or allied — is a deeply personal and arduous journey for every individual. Send your congratulations to Ellen Page.”

And a long line of people did just that. A small selection follows:

 

 

Click on the links to find out more about Time to THRIVE and the great work done by the Human Rights Campaign.

Hello! Wow. Thank you.

Thank you Chad, for those kind words and for the even kinder work that you and the Human Rights Campaign Foundation do every day—especially on behalf of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender young people here and across America.

It’s such an honor to be here at the inaugural Time to THRIVE conference. But it’s a little weird, too. Here I am, in this room because of an organization whose work I deeply admire. And I’m surrounded by people who make it their life’s work to make other people’s lives better— profoundly better. Some of you teach young people—people like me. Some of you help young people heal and to find their voice. Some of you listen. Some of you take action. Some of you are young people yourselves…in which case, it’s even weirder for a person like me to be speaking to you.

It’s weird because here I am, an actress, representing—at least in some sense—an industry that places crushing standards on all of us. Not just young people, but everyone. Standards of beauty. Of a good life. Of success. Standards that, I hate to admit, have affected me. You have ideas planted in your head, thoughts you never had before, that tell you how you have to act, how you have to dress and who you have to be. I have been trying to push back, to be authentic, to follow my heart, but it can be hard.

But that’s why I’m here. In this room, all of you, all of us, can do so much more together than any one person can do alone. And I hope that thought bolsters you as much as it does me. I hope the workshops you’ll go to over the next few days give you strength. Because I can only imagine that there are days—when you’ve worked longer hours than your boss realizes or cares about, just to help a kid you know can make it. Days where you feel completely alone. Undermined. Or hopeless.

I know there are people in this room who go to school every day and get treated like shit for no reason. Or you go home and you feel like you can’t tell your parents the whole truth about yourself. Beyond putting yourself in one box or another, you worry about the future. About college or work or even your physical safety. Trying to create that mental picture of your life—of what on earth is going to happen to you—can crush you a little bit every day. It is toxic and painful and deeply unfair.

Sometimes it’s the little, insignificant stuff that can tear you down. I try not to read gossip as a rule, but the other day a website ran an article with a picture of me wearing sweatpants on the way to the gym. The writer asked, “Why does [this] petite beauty insist upon dressing like a massive man?”

*pause*

Because I like to be comfortable. There are pervasive stereotypes about masculinity and femininity that define how we are all supposed to act, dress and speak. They serve no one. Anyone who defies these so-called ‘norms’ becomes worthy of comment and scrutiny. The LGBT community knows this all too well.

Yet there is courage all around us. The football hero, Michael Sam. The actress, Laverne Cox. The musicians Tegan and Sara Quinn. The family that supports their daughter or son who has come out. And there is courage in this room. All of you.

I’m inspired to be in this room because every single one of you is here for the same reason.

You’re here because you’ve adopted as a core motivation the simple fact that this world would be a whole lot better if we just made an effort to be less horrible to one another. If we took just 5 minutes to recognize each other’s beauty, instead of attacking each other for our differences. That’s not hard. It’s really an easier and better way to live. And ultimately, it saves lives.

Then again, it’s not easy at all. It can be the hardest thing, because loving other people starts with loving ourselves and accepting ourselves. I know many of you have struggled with this. I draw upon your strength and your support, and have, in ways you will never know.

I’m here today because I am gay. And because… maybe I can make a difference. To help others have an easier and more hopeful time. Regardless, for me, I feel a personal obligation and a social responsibility.

I also do it selfishly, because I am tired of hiding and I am tired of lying by omission. I suffered for years because I was scared to be out. My spirit suffered, my mental health suffered and my relationships suffered. And I’m standing here today, with all of you, on the other side of all that pain. I am young, yes, but what I have learned is that love, the beauty of it, the joy of it and yes, even the pain of it, is the most incredible gift to give and to receive as a human being. And we deserve to experience love fully, equally, without shame and without compromise.

There are too many kids out there suffering from bullying, rejection, or simply being mistreated because of who they are. Too many dropouts. Too much abuse. Too many homeless. Too many suicides. You can change that and you are changing it.

But you never needed me to tell you that. That’s why this was a little bit weird. The only thing I can really say is what I’ve been building up to for the past five minutes. Thank you. Thank for inspiring me. Thank you for giving me hope, and please keep changing the world for people like me.

Happy Valentine’s Day. I love you.

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Clare Sidoti

Clare Sidoti is 4 Your Excitement's Editor-at-Large. Clare has a BA (Theatre and Film Studies) from the University of New South Wales, Australia and an MA Theory and Practice of Human Rights from the University of Essex, UK. She currently works for an NGO that runs human rights training in the Asia Pacific region. You can find her on twitter with her eclectic musings on the arts, entertainment and human rights. Some of her favourite topics to cover include Darren Criss, Chris Colfer, Glee and Star Wars.
Clare Sidoti
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